Luz es vida en Questa
Light is indeed life in Northern New Mexico, inspiring former Questa Tourism Director Alberta Bouyer to write how the famous Taos light contributed to the traditions of this part of New Mexico. She notes how “the unbroken light across the sage stopped a couple artists in their tracks 100 years ago, solidifying our artistic heritage,” in reference to Taos Society of Artists founders Bert Geer Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein, upon arriving in Taos County from Colorado in 1898.
Just a half hour north of Taos, Questa’s traditional ways embody an unbroken relationship with its wild lands, from fishing and hunting to harvesting piñon nuts (pine nuts) and woodcutting for winter heat. This is where you go to fly-fish in a box canyon or ice fish on frozen Eagle Rock Lake east of town. Questa’s unspoiled recreation opportunities offer an alternative to the more developed and more well-known options in neighboring towns.
Río Grande del Norte National Monument
Questa’s star attraction, the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, never closes. The trails on the other side of this tiny village, in the Carson National Forest, are more protected and at slightly higher altitude than nearer to town, so they hold onto the snow more consistently. Columbine Canyon can make for wonderful snowshoeing or cross-country skiing – or a great place to hike and bike in the crisp air when the grounds are dry.
Located along the northern boundary of the new Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area, Questa also offers serene mountain lakes and pretty drives for more soul-filling adventure.
The thick-walled San Antonio del Río Colorado adobe church stands at the center of this traditional community. Built in the mid-1800s, it gave the village its original name, and which was later changed to “Questa” in an Anglo attempt at simplification, but became an official misspelling of the Spanish word cuesta, referring to the “rib” or “ridge” upon which the old church plaza was built.
Located just northeast of the intersection, on the ridge of Cabresto Road, stay along the ridge and continue to Carson National Forest, into a rare corner of the forest that makes for long snowmobile trails in the winter.
Bring your sense of adventure, your desire for community or a need to get away from it all, and discover this gorgeous, remote slice of Taos County.
For more information, check out the Village of Questa website at Questa-NM.com or phone the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, Monday-Friday, at (575) 586-0520 – open year-round.
At press time, because of COVID-19 precautions, the Bureau of Land Management Wild Rivers Visitors Center is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with masks and physical distancing required. For updated information, call (575) 586-1150.
Questa village/national monument stats:
Average annual snowfall: 214 inches
Average days of sunshine: 300 +
Village base elevation: 7,461
Monument base elevation:
Monument summit elevation: Ute Mountain, 10,093 feet
Monument acreage: 242,500 acres
Village distance to Taos: 24 miles
Monument distance to Taos: 41 miles
RV parks: 3
Lodging: 3 motels
Grocery/package stores: 4
Information: questa-nm.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; (575) 586-0694.